The Harp

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HARP is an acronym for Holly, Arlo, Ronnie, and Pete, and when the quartet made this live album in September 1984, the 35-year-old Near, the 37-year-old Guthrie, the 58-year-old Gilbert, and the 65-year-old Seeger represented more than four decades of politically motivated folk music. Their hastily organized tour did not present a unified musical entity so much as a group of disparate, well-meaning colleagues. Released on Near and Gilbert's label and produced by their managers, the record tilts toward its distaff side, which seems fair enough since Near and Gilbert are in good voice and bring new material to the table. Near's deceptively rollicking "Fine Time" (music by Jeff Langley, who accompanies the group on piano) reveals her uncertain emotional state. Guthrie and Seeger mostly retread familiar material, though Guthrie does introduce the excellent "All Over the World." The talent is undeniable, but the execution is essentially off-hand, resulting in a concert that sounds more like a spirited rehearsal.

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